The Best Things To Do In Dunedin

Written By: Claire Hollands

Do you love exploring cultural landmarks as much as you appreciate nature and want to soak in the surrounding landscape? If so, then Dunedin is a perfect destination for you! This fascinating region of New Zealand has everything – from all of the city amenities and points of interest you could want while also being in close proximity to natural areas and wildlife. Scottish pride is popular around this part of the country and it makes sense – Dunedin is lovingly referred to often as the ‘Edinburgh’ of New Zealand. The picturesque landscape, filled with lush green hills and breathtaking harbour, makes it one of the most beautiful places to spend any amount of time. Today, there are still countless nods to the Edwardian and Victorian history that once was prevalent in the area.

One of the best ways to see Dunedin is by a scenic drive. The Otago Peninsula is especially worthy of a road trip and offers you outstanding views of the beaches and rugged cliff sides – a stunning view that is not to be missed! This particular area of New Zealand is home to the Northern Royal Albatross, which you can see from the Royal Albatross Centre, located near Taiaroa Head. The Centre is the only place on earth you’ll get such views of these creatures within the surroundings of their natural and undisturbed habitat.

No matter what you’re in the mood for, chances are you’ll find it in Dunedin. Are you interested in learning about the history and culture of the area? Head over to the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum for an in-depth look at how early settlers lived, as well as detailed information on the wildlife and environment from the surrounding region. Art is also very popular in Dunedin and you can see it from the city – the Dunedin Street Art Trail features urban works by 25 artists, all of whom have created eye-catching art on the walls throughout the city. This 90-minute walking tour can be self-guided or as part of a guided tour.

Literature is also very important in Dunedin, as it’s designated as a UNESCO City of Literature! Bibliophiles should definitely visit the Hard to Find Bookshop for browsing, or see one of the many rare manuscripts on display at the Reed and de Beer Galleries.


Larnach Castle

Be sure to make a day trip to Larnach Castle during your visit to Dunedin! Larnach Castle is the only castle in New Zealand and its architecture is nothing short of stunning. Built in the 1870’s the castle has since been lovingly restored and you can tour the luxurious interior, including the tower and ballroom. Wander through the garden for a great view of the Otago Peninsula, and enjoy a meal and a drink – you can even stay overnight at the lodge!


Penguin Place

When visiting Dunedin, take a break and visit Penguin Place. This sanctuary was established to help protect the yellow-eyed penguin, and during this 90 minutes tour you will see magnificent scenery and learn about the penguins and the challenges they face. It is a chance to learn, not just about these beautiful creatures, but also the New Zealand environment, and make sure you wear comfortable shoes as you walk around the grounds!


Taieri Gorge Railway

Escape the hustle and bustle of Dunedin and take a leisurely train ride through the picturesque Taieri Gorge. You’ll enjoy the commentary as you learn about the region and its history, and gasp at the countryside as you travel across bridges and through tunnels. The train has a viewing platform, so you can really take in the splendour. The train leaves daily in the morning and afternoon, linking Pukerangi and Middlemarch.


Dunedin Railway Station

As you approach the imposing architecture of the historical Dunedin Railway Station it is not hard to imagine its past as one of New Zealand’s busiest stations. This fascinating building still stands proud, but times have changed. Now it is the starting point for tourist trains, house art displays, and the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. Take the time to enjoy it as you wait for the train!


Royal Albatross Centre

The Royal Albatross Centre is located on the Otago Peninsula, and the magnificence of the coastal view is matched only by the beauty of the birds. Visit the only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross, and learn about the birds and the environment they live in. Make sure you tour Fort Taiaroa and see the large collection of armaments on display. You can also see the Little Blue Penguins at Pilot Bay and enjoy a meal.


The Octagon

If you find The Octagon in the city of Dunedin, you’re close to everything! This space in the centre of the city, is its hub, with public transport, restaurants and pubs nearby. It will be walking distance to galleries and theatres and it’s a great place to start meandering around Dunedin! Have a meal and grab a show, do whatever you want, it’s all there waiting for you!

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